Utmost Christian

“Help, Lord, For the Godly Man Ceases!”

There are very few good men left in this generation. So choose your paths on earth carefully, and tread with caution where the wicked traverses your path.

Photo Courtesy: bikesandwich – flickr.com

‘Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases!
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.’

I am writing these words of David, after having uttered them myself a little while ago as I rode my motorcycle back home from a trip to the town. I encountered several drivers on the highway who had scant regard for the safety of others; their one intent was to get their own way, even if they have to overtake a vehicle in a dangerous manner though they could see a car heading toward them in the opposite direction, or even if they have to cross a junction in the middle of a red signal, or even if they have to shove this puny bike rider to the side by driving frighteningly close to me so I would move over to the hard shoulder so they could bypass me more quickly.

The highway is one of the most popular grounds for profane people to vent their feelings of hate and anger at others. When a vehicle comes in the way of another, the most common reaction of the latter is an angry honk, or a vulgar finger sign, or some swearing, or usually all of them together. The percentage of drivers, of good people, who don’t have any of these negative reactions when somebody gets in their way, is decreasing dramatically each year.

As the world tailspins into its last days, the lives of ordinary people are becoming the growing target of marauders, assaulters, swindlers, and hostile men. The streets of the cities in many countries are no more safe for women at any time. I wrote in another message of how a group of men abducted a woman from a public transport in India in daylight even though the woman was escorted by a male companion. This is a new phenomenon in my country. Such incidents, say the Bible, are only going to increase each year in our generation which is witnessing the endtime signs.

‘But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.’   2 Tim 3:1-4,12-13

In the workplace, in the shopping malls, in the public parks, in the entertainment halls, in the sports arena – in all these places, if you keep a keen eye, you can observe the growing number of thoughtless and selfish acts by people who show little regard or courtesy to the people around them.

We are living in a dangerous world. God’s people must daily pray for their and their loved ones’ constant protection wherever they go. As each year passes and the world gets even more unsafe, you should exercise great caution if you plan to attend certain public events.

Spectator events such as sports and carnivals are prime places for demons to run riot. Most of the spectators are not Christians who live by what the Bible has instructed them. Most of them live by whatever their emotions urge them at the moment. Where there is a crowd of such people, evil spirits get into a frenzy among them, like sharks get into a deadly frenzy at the smell of blood. Anything could happen then that may endanger your life or modesty. Stampede, riot, fight, molestation, terrorist attack.

My advice to you, child of God, for these last days: avoid spectator events as much as possible. Drive defensively, with constant alertness against some Godless driver ahead of you or behind you who might unexpectedly do something that could risk your life. Walk on the streets with a prayer on your lips, especially if you are a woman. Women should never go alone to a theater or a sports event or carnival. You, if you are a woman, should never travel alone as a tourist in any country, even your own. Do you know what happened to Dinah, the daughter of one of God’s greatest men, Jacob, when she went out alone to visit some women of the new land where she and the rest of her family had recently settled? You may read the shocking story in Genesis 34.

On the road, give way to the other driver, if he seems impatient, even if you have the right of way. Give way, give room, avoid righteous confrontation of any kind, show extra courtesy to the discourteous, return soft words, such as ‘sorry’, for hard obscenities hurled at you.

Above all, daily ask God to preserve you and your loved ones from the acts and devices of the unruly and faithless people in whose midst you live and move around.

‘Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing!
The faithful have vanished from the earth!
Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts.
May the Lord cut off their flattering lips and silence their boastful tongues.
They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content. Our lips are our own – who can stop us?”
The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.”
The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation, even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land.’   Psalm 12 NLT

 

Pappa Joseph

 

 

Utmost Christian

Do The Opposite Of What You Naturally Want To Do

 

A Godly old woman I know had a constant problem. She had a maid who came daily in the morning and took care of all the cooking and other home chores. The old woman was fully satisfied with her maid in all aspects of her work, except in one area. Every day when the maid returned to her home, she took away with her a generous portion of the foodstuff she found in the aged woman’s house. Now the maid had all the freedom to eat as much as she liked where she worked. And the kindly old lady had never refused anything that the maid had asked her. So when such generous treatment was given to the maid, it became an unbearable thought that she should want to daily pilfer from her employer.

The Godly old woman began to lose sleep over this problem. Day by day, her thoughts about the maid’s behavior rankled her more and more. After a month or so, she became acutely obsessed with the maid’s behavior and not being able to do anything about it. Of course, she could dismiss the maid, but she didn’t want to do that. Once when I met her, she was in an especial state of dejection. For the maid had now taken away a good chunk of the special cookies the old woman had carefully kept in her biscuit box for visitors. The situation was getting out of hand, and the old woman was ever more agitated.

I told her, ‘Next time thoughts of her pilfering comes to your mind, bless God that you are able to provide her the pilfered food’.

She stared into my pupils. This was obviously an alien concept to her.

‘I will give her all the food she wants if she asks me, but I cannot tolerate her stealing food from me.’

‘Try that solution anyway’, I coaxed her. ‘When next time anger swells up in you at what she is doing to you, suppress that feeling and force yourself to thank God she has taken some food home.’

‘God has blessed you with abundance’, I continued, ‘so much that her pilfering doesn’t make you go hungry. And God is able to return twice as much as she pilfers from you. Enjoy her pilfering in the thought that you can afford to provide her what she wants even if that provision is by her own theft.’

The Godly old woman was confused but bemused at the novel solution I offered. She assured me she will give it a try.

While not many of us have to daily deal with a thief in our home, we encounter situations in our workplace that require a similar solution: Doing the opposite of what our natural inclinations urge us to do.

We realize a colleague has spoken ill of us behind our backs. Rebuke in your mind, or even aloud, the offended emotions that make you resent him and want to get even with him. Force the noxious thoughts to give way to deliberate thoughts of forgiveness, asking God to enable you to do so. Grab your reluctant mind by its scruff and force into it the words, ‘Lord, bless him who did that wrong to me!’ Yes, you have to exert mental and emotional violence against your kicking and struggling thoughts to crucify them and give birth to Godly thoughts. You see, the natural inclination to forgive any wrong done to us is anathema to our original human nature. Which is why James tell us to ‘take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’.1

Or, say, a time waster comes over to where you sit and not only wastes your precious work time but bores you to the core with his babblings. The natural response varies from person to person. Some smile and endure the pain reverberating from their tympanums. Some shoo him or her away at the first opportunity. But the common emotion driving all these responses is the same. It’s dislike, scorn, impatience, hate. Now the Godly solution is to put your precious work aside and take captive the thoughts of scorn and impatience and willfully release the thoughts of goodwill toward the person damaging your aural apparatus.

Thomas, my fellow villager, is a unique character in every sense of the word. He has the capability to never discern even the clearest signs of unwelcome in the person he has managed to stall with his inquisitive words.

Once, very early in the morning, when the birds hadn’t yet tired of their morning chorus, came Thomas over to my place and leaned on the doorbell…until I forced myself to emerge out of my comfy blanket, and groggily headed to the door, thinking that only something of urgent import could announce itself so early in the morning and with such persevering tintinnabulation2.

On opening the door, it was a grinning Thomas. I gave him a piece of my natural mind, and went back to bed.

Photo Courtesy: Ivy Dawned – flckr.com

Over the next few months, I had to undergo further intensive training by the Holy Spirit in dealing with the natural mind. Less than a year later, Thomas, never known to give up a targeted victim, appeared at the door again at around the same time of the morning. This time the spiritual mind was ready, having knuckled the natural thoughts back into the abyss from which they came.

I smiled at seeing the horror. I mean, I really smiled from the heart. Then, opening the door wider, I greeted my tormentor warmly, and sat down to what I thought was going to be an unending hour with him.

Strangely, either because Thomas became uncomfortable with my strange response, or because of my own new mental disposition, the hour quickly came to end, and Thomas bid me good-bye.

I very seldom see him these days, and whenever I do, even my natural feelings naturally give way to my positive thoughts, so that I really look forward to meeting him now. And Thomas himself seems a changed man. He just doesn’t seem such a boring person anymore – and this is the man from whom I had in the past literally hid myself behind a bush or ducked my head whenever I espied him a 100 meters away.

There is a natural man in us which Christ’s followers had renounced and crucified when they accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord. But the natural man, which Paul calls the ‘old man’, is often capable of wrenching himself free and  taking captive our feelings and thoughts of our ‘inward man’ for a short while. This was what Paul experienced often.

‘I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.’  Rom 7:21-23

When we detect the natural man back in our minds, we must put on the spiritual man back with vigor, and we must deliberately and willfully do the opposite of what our old nature instigates us to do. And we can do it only through Jesus Christ – by appealing to our Lord to repossess our minds.

‘O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death [from my natural man]?’ cries Paul. And he answers himself immediately:

‘I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!’  Rom 7:24-25

God’s law of love never fails to eventually work dramatic changes in the affected person – both the one who loves and the one who is loved. When you force yourself to keep giving kind thoughts and kind acts, sooner or later they come back to you in the full measure you gave – plus some.

‘Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again.’  Luke 6:38 KJV

 

Pappa Joseph

 

1 2 Cor 10:5 NIV
2 A ringing or tinkling sound.